ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- Midnight, the black lab who rescued an elderly neighbor who had fallen in the snow in Alexandria, is getting some love.
After her story ran in the Echo Press, WCCO-TV picked up the story and so did “People” magazine. It received more than 1,000 shares on Facebook, and animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced that it is giving Midnight a Heroic Dog Award.
The award comes with a framed certificate and a letter of congratulations and, maybe more important to Midnight, a bag of toys and vegan treats.
“They called me from Washington D.C.,” said Tim Curfman, who adopted Midnight from an animal shelter four years ago. “I was kind of surprised. I’m not familiar with them at all.”
On Monday, Jan. 28, Curfman’s 87-year-old neighbor was out filling the bird feeder ahead of the polar vortex. Although the deepest cold was still a day away, temperatures were still only about zero.
The snow gave way beneath her boots and she fell. She crawled toward the garage, hoping to pull herself up, but was still lying there when Midnight trotted over from next door. The two were friends, and Midnight often got treats from the woman.
Midnight was only there a short time before heading back home to get Curfman, who was bringing trash cans out to the curb. Because of the way the neighborhood is built, Curfman doubted he would have ever seen his neighbor lying there. Plus, he is legally blind.
Curfman and his wife said their neighbor’s hands were blue from the cold, but they were able to get her warmed up inside her house. The neighbor, who requested that her name not be used, is fine now, Curfman said.
PETA says it has been giving out these awards for a few years as a way to remind people to treat their companion animals like family.
“We recently gave a Heroic Cat Award to a cat in Tennessee who notified his guardian of an incoming wildfire, and a Heroic Dog Award to a dog in Seattle who was beaten and shot while protecting his family from a home invasion,” said Audrey Shircliff, the group’s assistant press coordinator.
The organization is using Midnight’s story to promote adoption from animal shelters.
“When this dog sensed that something was wrong, she made sure that her neighbor got the lifesaving help that she needed," PETA Vice President Colleen O'Brien said. "This inspiring story reminds us that many intelligent, sensitive dogs are waiting in shelters for a family to join, and PETA encourages anyone with the ability and resources to care for an animal to adopt one from a local shelter."
There has been a lot of local interest too, Curfman said. This week, he planned to bring Midnight to a meeting of Visually Impaired People in Alexandria, to which he belongs, as other members wanted to hear her story.
Despite his own vision challenges, Midnight is not a seeing-eye dog, he said. She’s a pet.
A heroic pet.